The UK fishing industry will benefit from increased fishing opportunities in 2023 after a fisheries agreement has been reached with the EU
The UK fishing industry will benefit from 140,000 tonnes of fishing opportunities worth over £280 million in 2023 after the UK reached an agreement with the EU, today, Tuesday 20 December 2022.
This brings the total value of fishing opportunities secured for the UK fleet in 2023 in the three main negotiation forums to £750 million, a £34 million increase from last year.
In the third year of annual fisheries negotiations with the UK operating as an independent coastal state, the UK and EU today agreed catch levels for 69 important fish stocks. This included some of the most commercially valuable stocks to the UK fishing industry such as North Sea Nephrops (£54m), Anglerfish (£31m) and Western hake (£25m).
Throughout the negotiations, the UK Government has worked closely with the devolved administrations to ensure fishing communities across the UK will benefit from the agreement. The Scottish industry, for example, will benefit from improved catch levels for North Sea stocks including cod, hake, whiting and nephrops.
The agreement also commits the UK and EU to work together to provide more sustainable fisheries management.
Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said:
“Our agreement with the EU secures valuable fishing opportunities for the UK fishing industry while cementing our joint commitment to manage fisheries sustainably.
“These decisions are based on the latest scientific advice to help protect key fish stocks with the long-term health of the marine environment at the forefront of our minds.
“We are backing the fishing industry across the country to succeed, with a landmark £100m investment in infrastructure, skills and better scientific data so that our fishing industry thrives for generations to come.”
Reacting to the fisheries agreement reached between the UK and the EU for 2023, Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA) executive officer Simon Collins said:
“Of all the fish stocks included in this complex deal, monkfish was by far the biggest challenge – with a proposed 30% quota cut to that valuable species.
“This made no sense to our members or the wider Scottish industry. Ministers agreed to prioritise monkfish, and – justified through scientific evidence provided by fishermen –negotiated a less extreme reduction. The impact on crews will also be mitigated further through international transfers and other management measures.
“However, we should never have faced a 30% cut to monkfish quotas in the first place. That figure was based on uncertain stock assessment results disrupted by survey vessel breakdown and COVID-19. Our members are ready to assist with future government stock surveys to ensure sustainable and dependable results.
“Fishermen have been vindicated over North Sea cod quotas and are sure they will be vindicated again when scientific recommendations for monkfish catch up to reality. People should understand that no one has a greater interest in sustainable fishing than the fishermen and the communities whose futures depend upon it.”
Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said:
“We are pleased that the UK and EU have reached agreement on fishing opportunities for 2023. Crucially, between this agreement and the one reached with Norway earlier this month, our negotiators have managed to mitigate the impact of ICES’s over-precautionary catch advice from ICES on monkfish that industry considers to be unjustified. Monkfish was Scotland’s most valuable demersal species in 2021, and a 30% reduction would have been hugely damaging for our whitefish fleet.
“Outcomes on other key demersal species for the Scottish fleet are positive and we also look forward in 2023 to a full review of the North Sea cod assessment through the ICES benchmark process, and to a future where fishermen’s knowledge and expertise can play a meaningful role in stock assessments and catch advice.
“In addition to the good outcomes from negotiations for next year, talks will continue into 2023 with North East Atlantic coastal states on longer term sharing arrangements for a number of our pelagic stocks, and the outcome of these talks will be very important for the longer term.
“It is still regrettable however that the UK doesn’t have the same relationship with the EU on fishing as any other independent coastal state has, and we remain constrained by the Brexit deal on fisheries that leaves us unable to control access to our waters.
“This has been a very busy spell for our negotiating teams from Scottish and UK governments, and we are grateful for their sustained efforts to secure good outcomes for the Scottish industry, and for taking industry’s views and knowledge into account in their negotiations.”
This latest deal follows an agreement with the UK, EU and Norway on six North Sea fish stocks including cod, haddock and herring worth £202m to the UK fishing industry, and a further £11 million in stocks in other waters around the UK.
In the same week, the UK secured catch limits worth a further £256m with the North East Atlantic coastal States, while an agreement with Norway last month will see the UK fishing industry benefit from fishing opportunities worth £5 million in 2023.
Sustainability has been at the heart of the UK’s approach to all the negotiations to ensure key fish stocks are protected and to support the long-term viability of the UK fishing industry. Wherever possible, catch levels have been set in line with, or lower than, the level advised by scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and there is an estimated 13% increase in catch levels that align with ICES advice compared to last year.
The outcome of annual fisheries negotiations will be published in the Secretary of State determination of fishing opportunities for British fishing boats by the end of the year.
The UK has also started negotiations with the Faroe Islands on exchanges of fishing opportunities for 2023.